Bobby Kennedy

PRENOTE:  You’re an occasional visitor to this space?  If you’re interested in what I’ve been musing about, click on any month on the calendar at right, and the posts for that month will come up.  June 5, I published a brief post on Iftar, for example.


Today, I went over to the excellent 1968 Exhibit at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.  The exhibit runs through mid-Jan. 2019 and is well worth a visit.  Today was my third visit to the exhibit, specifically to remember the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in Los Angeles (he was shot on the evening of June 5, 1968, and died after midnight.).

The 1968 Exhibit is much more than just about Bobby Kennedy.  1968 was a tumultuous year, and the exhibit catches it in a manner that everyone can understand.  There were lots of school groups today.  It occurred to me that a student just completing kindergarten in 1968 would be 55 today.  Time (History) flies by and it takes work to preserve and make it relevant to future generations who should learn from its many lessons.

1968 Exhibit, Bobby Kennedy, Minnesota History Center.

A display entering the exhibit gives highlights of each month in 1968.  Here’s June:

I liked Bobby Kennedy.  I have no particular stories to share.  At the time of his death I was a junior high school geography teacher in suburban Minneapolis.  June 5 – a Sunday – was at the  very end of the school year.  We were, pardon the expression, still “shell shocked” from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr on April 4.  Our country seemed to have gone crazy.  Every month (above) had its theme.

There are endless stories and interpretations of the meaning of Bobby Kennedy, then and now.  We were better for his having been with us; he didn’t live long enough for us to know if he’d be nominated for election for President.

The 1968 Exhibit gives numerous other cues to conversation about other significant events the same year.

If you’re around the Twin Cities, take the time to visit, sometime in the next months.

June 5, 1968, Los Angeles CA


from SAK:  

Thanks for the post, Robert Kennedy deserves to be remembered & yes admired. Many have mentioned that he was very influential while brother John was president – some even said he was the brainy one. While a student in the US I listened to JFK’s speeches at the university library. Impressive. How the standards have fallen . . . today we have tweeters. Perhaps Robert helped write these speeches but there is no doubt John knew a thing or two about oratory.

This book was published yesterday:

The Assassination Of Robert F. Kennedy by Tim Tate and Brad Johnson.

& here’s a British paper’s take.

This impromptu speech by Robert is very moving.

and here is something he said about consumerism & “economism”:

Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman‘s rifle and Speck‘s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Thanks again for reminding us of a great man and, sadly, of a great tragedy!


“Thank you. It’s an important read.”

Poor People’s Campaign, May 29, 2018 Minnesota State Capitol

Earlier today I forward the most recent Just Above Sunset*, entitled “The World As It Is”   I noted:  “as you read, to think about how YOU, AS AN INDIVIDUAL, fit into changing the status quo.  Every single one of us has “to be the change we wish to see…” (Gandhi). We have to be “on the court”, not “in the stands”, or not interested….”

Several have chosen to respond, as follows, and the variety of their responses suggests to me that others may wish to see this post as well:

Bob: Thanks. Read it all.  Staying in the battle seems overwhelming at this point.  We are on the edge of full fascism unless we turn it around

in the fall elections.  We have to remember that only 24 percent of the total electorate put him in office and get to work on fall elections by.  It is trully bothersome to hear younger Trump supporters, as I did this morning, praising his leadership.  They appear totally immersed in the pop culture and Fox news propaganda.

Larry: This is very wonderful.  Had to do quick read now, but will take time later to read more carefully.

Peter: True, it is up to us, as individuals, now. But the book I’m writing makes an argument that what we also must do is evolve into a new kind of humanity. A way of being we have not yet acquired a taste for.

From that standpoint the 45th occupant of the White House is humanity’s expression of the first stage of grief: denial. In that context the angry, jealous old man makes a kind of logical sense. What the rest of us must do is raise the bottom — get through with the anger and negotiating phases of Humanity’s grief, and get to work reversing the damage we did to our life-support systems while addicted to oil.

Long time friend: Hi Dick. Good article!  I’m not one to prophesize, but if I were, I would say that once this current Trump term is over, the nation will go to work to undo all the damage done by Trump and Make America Great Again.

Flo: Thank you. It’s an important read.


Tuesday, I dropped over for a small but vigorous demonstration at the Minnesota State Capitol (photo leads this post).  The demonstration was part of a nationwide event for the Poor People’s Campaign.  This is an initiative to build on an earlier similarly named campaign in 1968, which you can read here.  That campaign was organized by Martin Luther King, who was assassinated 50 years ago April 4, 1968.  About a week from now is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, June 6, 1968.

Yes, this demonstration was small.  Yes, I didn’t see many “poor” appearing people on the Capitol steps either.  But I didn’t expect such.

Poor People have other priorities, like survival, and the battles for them are going to have to be fought by people like ourselves.

There is an alarming and ever increasing wealth gap in this country, and no good will come of it.  Those who control power have the means to do it, and are addicted to getting even more of it.  The country is not well served by this obscene gap in wealth.  It may take years, but those who like the current status quo, will come to a personal day of reckoning, I predict.

Get active.


I came to the demo from a visit to grandson and family in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital, Minneapolis.  Emergencies like Ben’s likely long-term hospitalization and recovery are not planned expenses, so before a single bill is posted, the questions are things like “how much will be covered by insurance?” (which they are lucky enough to have) and the like.

If you’re privileged, as those of you who can read this are, it is easy to take such issues as survival for granted.   The poor, or people beset by catastrophe, have no such luxury.

We did not plan to visit our own family catastrophe.

If you wish an update on Bennie, here.

* I have read Just Above Sunset for some years now.  It is an always excellent six days a week summary of significant events of the previous day.  The price is more than right: free.  The compiler is retired and very well versed in life and politics.  Check it out.

Pope Francis A Man of His Word

Yesterday we went to an outstanding film whose narrator is Pope Francis.

We saw this just released film at the Edina Theater.  Here is information about the film, including reviews.  We both would give it the highest rating.

Pope Francis needs no introduction on the world stage.  Nor does St. Francis of Assisi, the Saint whose name he chose when elected Pontiff in 2013.  The film, largely and intentionally and very wisely in the Pope’s own spoken words (closed caption), is for anyone.

But this film is much more than a man sitting in a chair talking to a camera.  There are abundant visuals from around the planet, including his speaking to the U.S. Congress.

The film would speak most clearly and profoundly to persons who have any sensitivity to the issues of the survival of the planet, and issues of justice.  This would be expected from Francis, whose 2015 Laudato Si is subtitled “On Care For Our Common Home“.

Its message is not a comfortable one for those of us in the United States, which has less than 5% of the world’s population, and 25% of the world’s gross national income.    Those two numbers say a great deal….

Take the time to see this film.  And pass the word.

Watching Death Happen.

PRENOTE: I began this post on Mothers Day, 2018.

Mother’s Day was a beautiful day in the Twin Cities.  We had been to Mass at Basilica of St. Mary, and I was waiting for Cathy near the southwest ground level door.

I heard a rustling in the grass and dry leaves and  caught a flash of something or other to my right.  It was enough to startle me, and I looked quickly, and there, at sidewalk level a couple of feet from me, lay a healthy looking mouse, only this mouse was clearly in the final stages of dying, lying on its back, its legs reflexively  writhing, it’s eyes open, but it’s body clearly out of its control.

Its run as a mouse was about over.

What does one do at such a moment?  You don’t call 9-11, or animal rescue for a dying mouse.  I did nothing.  Cathy came.  I didn’t tell her about the mouse.  We left.


Somehow I see our country much like that mouse and its surroundings (including myself) on Sunday.

Spring is beautiful up here; people look satisfied enough at the coffee shop.  The externals at this 15th of May, 2018, look and feel pretty normal.

“Don’t worry, be happy”, as the saying goes, “not my problem”.

But somehow I see our nation dying, as that mouse was on Sunday.  Something has got hold of too many of us, and it is not healthy for our body as a nation.

The Current Occupant of the White House is completing his process of killing the legacy of his predecessor, President Obama, with relish and the apparent agreement of Congress: Obamacare, COPS 23 climate compact, Iran Nuclear deal, on and on.  Anything at all that represents Obama successes, killed or on the chopping block.  A President (and by extension his “base”) seem unconcerned that there are tens of millions of people like myself who deeply respect the Obama’s and what they endeavored to do for the nation and world, and who deeply respected Hillary Clinton, and Bill as well, as dedicated and extraordinarily competent public servants.

Yesterday was only the most recent example: moving the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was more than a symbolic slap in the face of an entire world culture.  Here is a good summary of yesterday in Jerusalem and Israel.  It speaks for itself.  What happened in Jerusalem yesterday is a slap in the face of all the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Islam and the vast majority of people who call themselves “Christian”, not to mention the community of nations that make up our diverse country and world.  “Christian” does not stop at the boundary of “evangelical”….

Sticker seen recently on a late model car with Illinois plates.

It has now been announced that “Make America Great Again” has been replaced by “Keep America Great”:  today’s version of “Mission Accomplished”.

The message to people like myself and the rest of the world is that we can all go to hell.  We’re losers.  It’s Trumps world now.

Tax “cuts” enacted with great fanfare will bring temporary false prosperity, quieting the masses, but give these cuts a few years, and the very same people who are now happy, will be hurting, and wondering why.  There is no ‘free lunch’…less taxes is less service; less of a safety net; less security for those who are not wealthy, which is the vast majority of us.  It is the super-wealthy and large corporations that got the real permanent tax cuts.  The rest got a few scraps, soon spent and forgotten.


There is such a surrounding of willful destruction going on (others would say renewal) that it is hard to see through the rubble and keep moving forward.  But I give a damn.

Personally, I’m not a quitter.  Quitting for me is no option.

At the same time, I know I can’t accomplish anything by myself, or presume that it has to be “my way or the highway”.  I had far too many years of dealing with differences to know that someone who feels dominant can, indeed, impose his or her will on others…but only temporarily.

I have more words, about many things relating to the national train wreck we are witnessing in real time, may not feel the effects of for perhaps a number of years.  The reckoning will come for us, as it was coming for that poor little mouse on Sunday morning.

Pay attention.  This is happening on your watch – on all of ours….

A Korea Walk in Minnesota

UPDATE:  Follow the walk at Walk for Hope & Peace 2018 on Facebook.  Earlier post on Korean war era here.

Today, Kyong Juhn, a Korean born photographer from Rochester MN begins a 323 mile walk from Rochester to Bemidji to mirror her mothers 323 miles walk from North Korea to South Korea years ago.  The May 2 article in the Rochester Post Bulletin describing the Minnesota walk can be read here.

Here is Korea in perspective, from my 1960 Life Pictorial Atlas.  (Pyongyang to Seoul is about 120 miles “as the crow flies”.)

Korea and Chinese neighboring area

The route and timeline are pretty straight-forward, details about the Twin Cities “leg” follow the illustrations (below).

Kyung Juhn’s is a walk for peace and hope and the Twin Cities area Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 is providing its”Harold and Louise Nielsen Peace Bus” bus as “sag wagon” for support.  She hopes to find shelter along the journey  She will stay in motels if necessary, but she would like to stay with folks along the way as a way to bond.  Those wishing more information can call Vets for Peace President David Logsdon (612-203-9768).

David says “The route has been considered with regard to a balance between visibility and safety.  We expect this to be a true adventure, both challenging and regarding.  the time for peace is now!”

Again, below the illustrations are specifics about the Twin Cities “leg” of the walk.

The Twin Cities “Leg”:  Wednesday May 9, the walk will leave Rosemount at 7 a.m. enroute to Minnehaha Park.

Thursday May 10, there will be a short program at Minnehaha Park beginning 9:30 a.m., then the walk goes up West River Road, ultimately arriving at KFAI for Don Olson’s broadcast at 1 p.m.  After the program, the walk will cross the UofM pedestrian bridge, and then walk up University Avenue to Fridley.

Friday May 11, the walk will be from Fridley to Ramsey.  Those wishing to do portions of the walk can possibly work out schedules with the Northstar Commuter rail which begins at the Target Field area.

Looking back….

It is nice to have a piece of positive news, as this reflective and honoring walk will be for Kyong Juhn.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to join a portion of the walk on Thursday.

But copying the map (above) caused me to think back to the time when I bought the Atlas, shortly after college and in the U.S. Army in 1962.  It was a major purchase at the time, and inconvenient too – Army infantry men, as I was, had almost no storage space, but it was a treasured possession, and still is.

What interested me, looking at the map, was that I had long harbored the impression that “China” (as in the big cities) was north of Korea.  I really had no reason to look closely at the map, which reveals, as you can see, a different reality.  So, it was a good learning to look at the old map.

I was a geography major in college (1958-61).   During my college years, Fidel Castro threw out Batista in Cuba;  Communism replaced Corruption.  In the Army I was one of those GIs who heard President Kennedy speak of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962.  “A History of Latin America” (1961 ed.) by Hubert Herring says this in the very last sentence of the long chapter on Cuba (p. 422): “Reflecting upon the sorry state of Cuba in 1960, the onlooker could say that two things are reasonably clear: Cuba was indeed overdue for a revolution, and revolutions are never mild and gentlemanly”.  (For anyone interested, I made a copy of this chapter on Cuba some years ago.  It is here: Cuba to 1963001)

Earlier, the Korean “War” (it has never been a declared war) had lurched to an end five years before I started college in 1958.  It was a deadly conflict.  I’m old enough to remember the fall from grace of Gen. Douglas McArthur, and it was in these times in the early 1950s that Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Unamerican Activities Committee were raging on about excising Communists among us.    It was a generally nasty time.

In a sense, both the Korean Peninsula and Cuba are residues of the “Cold War”.   Both have gone on for a very, very long time.  Any opportunity for even small positive changes should be welcome.  No need for any “victory lap” by anyone for anything positive that happens.

It is a welcome coincidence for Kyong Juhn that her long-planned walk to come at a time when the Korean Peninsula is more positively in the news.  But as anyone who has ever been in negotiations knows, it takes more than a meeting and words on paper to accomplish major objectives; in the end, the best result is that we not blow ourselves to bits, and that relationships are a tiny bit better and improve in small increments over time.  Don’t expect miracles.


from Andy: Regarding the piece on Cuba and sugar:  I cut sugar cane in Cuba for 6 weeks in the 1970 harvest when the economic policy was to maximize sugar production and reach the goal of 10 Million tons. The whole economy was mobilized around this goal. It was almost reached (8.5), but later, with sugar prices consistently so low, the policy was reversed.  I went to Cuba a few months and talked to an economist from the University of Havana.  He told me that now sugar is produced essentially only for domestic consumption. Tourism is now viewed as the most important sector of the economy.

from Larry: That was an excellent scan of the map of the Korean peninsula. Very interesting. I know so very little about this part of the world and, like you, this helped my understanding of the geography. I have a Fargo friend who was in Korea during the “police action” or whatever – he calls it a war and rightly so – and I will share your post and map with him. He, like so many of that era, is not a “computer guy.” He will certainly find your post of interest.

World Law Day, May 1, 2018

UPDATE May 22: World Law Day program was a success last evening.  Here is the program: World Law Day Program001.  Supporting materials are linked below.  Video of Louisa Hext talk on Forgiveness can be viewed at the Citizens For Global Solutions website, here.


Today is World Law Day.  Late this afternoon about 40 of us will gather at Gandhi Mahal restaurant in Minneapolis to remember a memorable World Law Day 50 years ago in 1968, and hear Louisa Hext talk on “Hope for a Better Tomorrow – Forging the Path Towards Forgiveness: Breaking the Cycle”.  This is a dinner meeting.  There are still openings if you wish, but please call or e-mail first.  The flier is at the end of this post.

World Law Day?  “May Day” is lots of things.  I remember May Baskets as a little kid, “Mary, Queen of the May” as a young Catholic Boy.  I recall May Poles, for some reason – there must have been a year….  On and on.  No one has a copyright on May Day.  It’s centerpiece has always been, I think, nature centered, a hopefully nice Spring Day in the northern hemisphere: a time of renewed beginnings in nature.

World Law Day” was a creation of Lynn Elling, Martha Platt, Dr. Asher White and others in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  The first event was May 1, 1964.  World Law Day was a simple adaptation of Law Day, proclaimed by President Eisenhower in 1958, and enacted into U.S. Law in 1961.  Law Day was the U.S. “cold war” response to the martial tradition of May 1, May Day, in the Soviet bloc.  Not coincidentally it came only months after Sputnik was launched in October, 1957.  World Law Day dinners went on in the Twin Cities for many years, and were resurrected six years ago by Lynn Elling, before he died.  It now has a history of its own.

The premise of World Law Day was peace through World Law, rather than through constant war or threat of war.

As President Harry Truman said during his time as a public servant, if there is a dispute between U.S. states over water rights involving a river which makes up their border, rather than go to war, they go to court for peaceful resolution.  There should be no difference on the Global stage…where all of us live, after all.  “World Law” makes a great deal of sense; more sense than killing some enemy who will, ultimately, get revenge.

The group gathering today will each get a 50+ page packet called “A Rough Draft For History”.  The title is intentional.  For those interested, here is the entire packet, in two parts: World Law Day 2018001 and Minnesota Declarations 002

(In the “World Law Day” packet, at pages 25-26, I take a stab at summarizing 300 years from 1768 – 2068.  I’d invite your own similar reflections, private or public.  We’re at a crucial point in our history, I think, more so than at most any other time so far.)

The second packet deserves a scroll as well, just to see what’s there.

Here’s the flier for tonights event, should anyone have an interest.

World Law Day 2018-05 Louisa Hext FLYER

UPDATE May 2, 2018

Louisa Hext May 1, 2018

The Korean Peninsula

The handshake and the stepping across the line at Panmunjon yesterday were of more than symbolic significance.  It passes with more than routine notice: a step on a long road ahead, hopefully between two sovereign nations, together, rather than manipulated by some Greater Power(s).

I’ve written about Korea a few times, most recently here.

A while back I made a rough map to orient myself to this part of the world which has, for the past 65 or so years been neither at war nor at peace.

Korea and environs

(The lavender rectangle on the map was a scale of miles.  But think in terms of perhaps 100 miles, east to west.  Pyongyang and Seoul, the two capital cities, are not much more than 100 miles apart.  This is not a place for idle threats or speculation or insults like “nuke ’em”, “rocket man” or such.)

This morning my favorite compiler of opinions about this and that had a collection of opinions about what happened yesterday at Panmunjon.  You can read it here.

The longest leaps often begin with the smallest steps.

Let’s hope those symbolic gestures, yesterday, come to have great historical significance in years to come.

POSTNOTE: This is my first publication since April 11.  First, a problem with my writing platform required a rebuild; then that was done and life has been extremely busy.  I think I’m mostly back in business.  Those who were subscribers will have to resubscribe once a new subscription feature is selected.  It’s good to be back, at any rate.

On a related note to the above, there is still room for persons interested in attending the “Forgiveness” dinner with Louisa Hext on Tuesday, May 1.  This will be a very good evening.  The flier is here:

World Law Day 2018-05 Louisa Hext FLYER

Our National Insanity

Published as the students from Marjory Stoneman Johnson are speaking in Tallahassee FL.

Previous related posts: Feb. 14, Feb 15, Feb. 17 (two posts)

Today is one week out from the massacre at Parkland, Florida.

In the last 48 hours came two items that especially drew my attention. There are many, many more such items, granted, but I’d recommend these two:

1. The Washington Post (WaPo), on Monday morning, simply listed the names of those killed in mass shootings in the United States since Columbine, April 20, 1999. I hope you read it, here.

But only one week after the carnage in Parkland, FL, on Valentine’s Day, we seem generally back to our “normal”: A kind of national insanity, hopelessness. Outrage replaced by resignation…except for a few very brave souls.

2. Then there’s the plague of misinformation: Newsweek Online, scroll down to the article “The social media psy op that took down Al Franken“. These days it is hard work to decide what to believe. Is everything “fake news”. No longer is it a foolish question. Can I even trust “Newsweek”?

Newsweek. I subscribed to Newsweek for many years, at minimum through 2004 (I have hard evidence of such here in my home office). But Newsweek the magazine no longer even exists. Thankfully there’s a wiki article about Newsweeks changes in recent years.

WaPo, too, has gone through major changes in ownership. Washington Post is a part of the Amazon empire.

Then there are local entities, like the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to which we have long subscribed, but which I rarely read these days. It is a shell of its former self, and the most recent years ownership reflects a different ideological slant from years ago, when I was first subscribing.


And how about your social media choices? As we are learning through the Russia indictments (and the Franken gambit, above referenced), social media is a major problem. We are living in the “wild west”, open to being duped. No one can blame anyone else for their personal gullibility. We need to be our own gatekeepers, when responsible gatekeepers are few and far between.


How to be an “informed citizen”?

It is one thing for a “tweet” to reflect the tweeters own “truth”, which may or may not have a shred of truth within. A tweet is a headline with no content, no substance. Gullible consumers can take that tweet, etc., and create their own fantasy reality.

As a society, today we are in very, very dangerous territory. We are susceptible to addiction to deliberately false misinformation.

Informed and engaged are ever more essential. Like most everyone, it is easy for me to become almost paralyzed by the blizzard of information (and, especially) mis-information swirling around. There is no more important task, now, than to stay on the court.


I come from an era where there was a reasonably safe presumption that your “mainstream” print media gave a reasonably decent shot at “fair and balanced”, or at least was basically truthful (in the religious sense – lying was once a big deal).

I recall touring Harry and Bess Truman home in Independence MO with my Dad, in 1983. The guide pointed out the kitchen table where Harry read – if I recall correctly – 5 newspapers every day, including the local Independence publication.

There was a television in the living room. Harry died in 1972, Bess in 1982, and the best guess is that neither spent much time in front of the tube whose programming was, then, very unsophisticated compared with today.

(If you’re in the Twin Cities make it a point to see “1968” at the Minnesota History Center. It will give you a window into communication and events of that watershed year in our history as a nation. You have 11 months, still to see it. It is very worthwhile as a thought-provoking place.)

I didn’t see television until my junior year in high school, 1956, and then it was a single channel with awful reception on only during the daytime and early evening.


As for today, watch very carefully your own choice of “news” tomorrow. I don’t care your ideology. Watch it carefully. If you’re one of those who still get newspapers, note what you read. Note what it includes, and by extension what it excludes.

If your major source of news is other media, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or similar, notice what you choose to open. What do you know about the source of that news, if anything? What do your choices say about you?

Not all of you are on Facebook. Daughter Joni’s post on Thursday (here) has received a lot of attention. Yesterday, came another Facebook post from Joni, referencing something which had moved and inspired me many years ago.

Double click to enlarge the screen shot. Here’s the pdf: Joni on Risk003

As best I can discover, this inspirational saying is attributed to William Arthur Ward.


Always informative: Just Above Sunset for today: “On Being Oblivious to Humiliation“. Consider subscribing. The price is right: free.

POSTNOTE: As I’ve previously noted (Feb. 15), I was more than a far-away spectator of Columbine High School, April 20, 1999. Little did we know, then, the future. Yes, there were outrages before: the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City by white anti-government types April 19, 1995, comes immediately to mind.

Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Johnson HS has much more potential for long term action than the earlier Columbine. For one thing, communication means are now universal. Columbine was before iPhones (2007); as well as the other technologies previously mentioned (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter).

Columbine could reasonably be viewed as an aberration at the time. No longer.

I applaud the kids who are getting in action. And everyone else who has the courage to speak out.

#MeToo. Time for honest conversations…lots of them.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Sometime before she began first grade in about 1913 my Aunt Lucina got a Valentine from a young friend, Stella, who lived on a farm a couple of miles down the road in Henrietta township North Dakota.

(click to enlarge illustrations)


Her friends Mom helped make this card for her daughter. Most likely it was delivered in person by horse and buggy. A year or so earlier, rural telephone (“two longs and a short”) had entered the vocabulary of these country neighbors, but in those days the phone was “party line” for everybody, and not for casual use. Stella was apparently missing her young friend down the road, my Aunt Lucina.

Valentine’s Day has a very long history. You can read about it here; (do a quick scroll to “Modern Times” for the more contemporary history.

All of the following are Valentine cards from the Busch farm in ND, which I had borrowed from Uncle Vince and Aunt Edithe, and scanned years ago. They were in a box, and I wrote a bit about them a dozen years ago. My post says there were 19 Valentine’s in the box. I scanned the nine you see here.

The remaining illustrations in this post are all from that same box, that same scan, just waiting for the appropriate time to see the light of day, albeit on a computer screen in 2018.





Valentine 1911

Valentine 1913

Valentine 1913


The following are my scattered/random comments as we wade through the swamp of #MeToo. #MeToo is about relationships of one sort or another gone awry. It has overtaken most everything else in the national conversation the last few months, but if you think about it, the high profile #MeToo’s are very few and very rare.

What follows are some personal unpolished thoughts out loud, hopefully to encourage other thoughts out loud, but mostly to encourage people of different genders, ages, points of view, to discuss together, in person, the “#MeToo” issue. There will be squirming and defensiveness, but the conversations are worth having, far better than the insanity we’re going through today.

I have relevant experience with this, beyond simply being a human being.

As a teacher union staff person from 1972-2000, I and my colleagues had plenty of experience with the “sex” issues of those days: accusations similar to todays, most in the area of inappropriate contact between student and teacher; often front-page news. They were also rare, mostly men were accused (but not all), and mostly there was provable guilt to some degree (but not always). There came to be instant and severe punishment: almost automatic loss of the license to teach.

There was an over-reaction by society generally, and by the teacher community. Some saw individual incidents as opportunities to tar the entire teaching profession, particularly the Unions (including myself) whose duty was to represent our members. At the height, my own union adopted a “no touch” rule for members to avoid problems. It made sense at the time, but was also crazy (such as the female kindergarten teacher afraid to help tie a kindergarten boys shoes).

“Innocent until proven guilty” was not part of the conversation. I’d say it was impossible to get a fair trial that ended with exoneration, or rehabilitation. Once charged, you were presumed to be guilty.

How little we have learned EXCEPT that “sex” has become a very useful political tool….

Fast forward to today, very, very briefly: Full disclosure: two of my personal heroes, Al Franken and Garrison Keillor, have been felled by the recent rounds of #MeToo. Again, once accused, convicted. The “whole truth” unnecessary; all that matters, the result. If you like the outcome against one person, be aware, another person you like, including yourself, may be next on the chopping block.

For some reason I kept the Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 Minneapolis Star Tribune, whose top of the front page headline was: “Most believe Franken’s accusers“, with subhead “But nearly half of voters say senator shouldn’t have stepped down.” This was a month after the first allegation against Franken was made, for something which occurred before he ran for U.S. Senate, an accusation accompanied by a single photograph suggesting…. Then came some other allegations, “anonymous”. Then the “court” of public opinion:

(click twice for additional enlargement)

We may as well dispense with hearings or courts or privacy: just take a poll and publicize it…the sample will render the verdict. This is a dangerous way to do things.

I did watch 60 Minutes Sunday night, the “#MeToo” topic was one of the segments. I’m sure you can still watch the segment on-line. Now we move, righteously, to kill sexual harassment. It is a wonderful idea. So was prohibition, and the move to eliminate abortions, or to keep slavery, or get rid of illegals…the lists of schemes to prohibit go on and on and on.

To #MeToo as an issue: I read, and I talk to people of other genders with possibly differing points of view…. “Sex” is a part of every one of our beings. It has a very long history. In our country, there is a fascination with sex, as practiced by someone else.

The objective must be to make things better, rather than to attempt to make things perfect.

Then there is our national moral and legal arbiter Donald Trump. While there is much talk about the sanctity of “due process”, including from me, there is no level playing field when it comes to Trump. It is hard to imagine that he will ever be found guilty of anything. He is a proven serial liar – nothing he says can be taken at face value, even in writing, most certainly not in court, and sexual harassment is generally a very personal deal, rarely public, subject to interpretation. He needs only to deny…and countersue.

Lots of people who should know better, say what he allegedly did happened long ago…we should get over it. (There is something of that mantra about Judge Roy Moore, whose incidents happened, they say, “40 years ago”.)

Trumps reputation as a very rich man is that he is one who can afford to, and does, counter-sue almost at every opportunity. If you have power and lots of money, you can buy much better “due process” justice than if you are poor or less powerful or one of those teachers I used to represent.

With Trump, we have what we deserve, and we’re probably stuck with it. Make it a learning opportunity.

A NEW FAVORITE BIBLE STORY comes via an evangelical guy who attends an every Saturday Bible Study one table away from me at coffee. There seems to be an intended public witness by the half dozen men who usually attend, all nice guys, and knowledgable.

Anyway, a few Saturdays ago one gentleman – likely a PhD and a very decent man from all indications – was saying he’d been at something or other and the speaker talked about the first two commands in the Bible: “have sex and eat“. It got a good laugh from the assembled Christians….

Comments are welcome, but probably this forum is not the best – engage with others where you live.

Happy Valentine’s Day. And Ash Wednesday, too.

From Norm: Those old valentines brought back many memories of my grade school days when we used to exchange them I school. As I recall, there was usually a box set-up in our home room that had been decorated by our creative peers with a slot on its top for us to insert the valentines that we had brought in.

The box would later be opened on or close to Valentine’s Day and its contents distributed with all of the be my valentine messages on them.

I can even recall a few valentines that had a small red sucker attached to them as well.

Thanks for bringing back those special memories, Dick.

from Jeff: I think you make a good point, and one often pointed out, that if you are able, you can buy more due process if you can afford it.

I think the #metoo is a good thing, but while he said she said isn’t always right, sometimes it is (Aziz Ansari)

The World Is My Country

PRE-NOTE Jan. 27: I watched the on-line version a few hours ago. Note PS in this post if you experience any difficulty with your computer. The on-line film is perfect quality. (Do watch all the way through the credits, and complete the evaluation found there.) Free through Feb. 1. My e-mail: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.


It’s arrived! The free week on-line full length preview of “The World is my Country” begins Friday, January 26, through Thursday, February 1, 2018. To watch it go here, and sign in. Then enter your access code CGS2018.

You are welcome to share that special code with all your friends, on Facebook, Instagram or whatever. It can be played as many times as you want but only during the free week.

Not sure if you want to take the time to watch a movie? Then please take just 2 minutes to watch the short video about the standing ovation and excitement generated by the film when we showed it at the World Premiere at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International film festival: here

I have literally watched this film evolve over the past seven years since I learned of the project, and from the beginning I have been impressed with the rich and little known historical story the film tells, and its appeal to those from high school age to senior citizens. From the beginning I’ve been a volunteer champion for it. Give the film 84 minutes of your time this weekend. I think you’ll want to encourage others watch it as well between now and the end of the preview week February 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if you watch it a second time.

In my opinion, this is a film that is ideal to watch in a group setting, among people of varied ages and similar or differing points of view. It encourages reflection leading to rich, civil conversation. It is about past, present and future…and our role. It is not a “birds of a feather” presentation. Yes, it has a point of view, but open to differing interpretations, on serious contemporary local and global issues.

Yes, the film is “free”. But nothing is ever free – you know that. I’ve watched Arthur Kanegis, the director of the film, put over a decade of his life plus all his resources into making this film to save this important story from the dustbin of history. He’s making this preview available to you in the hopes that you’ll help sponsor it at more film festivals or hold your own mini-fest of films for a better world. Please consider making a voluntary donation to help pay for final licensing and related costs so that this film can play on public television stations and be publicly released. This is a film deserving to be seen now and for years to come. You are part of its future.

Here is a flier I put together which can be shared: The World Is My Country006

More information about this 84-minute film is here.

Comments/Questions? dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

Enjoy the show! (I’m quite certain you will.)

To show the film to your friends using your laptop and a projector or television:
1. Make sure your laptop has a strong WIFI signal to be able to stream the video without hesitating.
2. Connect your laptop to the TV or projector using an HDMI cable, description here.
(If you have an older laptop that lacks an HDMI port then ask a techie about other connection options)
3. Plug a good speaker into the headphone jack of your laptop or of the TV so you can have louder and clearer sound.
(you might have to use the “sound” control panel of your PC to choose if the sound goes right from the laptop or goes through the HDMI cable to the TV or projector.)
4. Enjoy! And invite everyone who watches to let the filmmakers know how they feel by filling out the survey here.